Two-time champion Rory McIlroy is bidding to win his third Dallah Coffee Pot trophy. The world No 1 will be eager to continue his love affair with the Majlis Course at Emirates Golf Club. “I always look forward to playing the Dubai Desert Classic, having won the tournament twice in my career, and Majlis is a golf course that I love to play,” the four-time Major champion had told the official website. “Lifting the Dallah trophy for a third time is something I would like to achieve.”
The Northern Irishman, 32, first played the Majlis Course in 2006 as a 16-year-old amateur, before recording his maiden professional win on the same course three years later. By the time he claimed his second Dubai Desert Classic title in 2015, he had added four Major championships to his trophy cabinet. McIlroy returns to the Majlis Course having not competed in the tournament since 2018. Wrong he played last year in 2022
The Ulsterman, who holds a slender lead at the top of the official world golf rankings, has an added incentive to win this week as it will increase his average points tally of 8.23 with American Scottie Scheffler breathing down his neck with 8.19 points.
Former Race to Dubai No 1 Tommy Fleetwood has been a regular visitor at the Emirates Golf Club, playing in his 12th consecutive appearance.
The six-time DP World Tour winner and Ryder Cup star Fleetwood, who famously won four points out of five in a memorable debut in the biennial event in 2018, will be hoping to make his experience count at the event where he has been ever-present since 2012.
“I start my season in the Middle East and come to Dubai each year, so this is an event and venue that I know well,” said Fleetwood, a Rolex Series winner who has also sealed two titles in Abu Dhabi. “It’s no secret that I enjoy playing in the region and I would love to be able to add to my success here.”
The English professional will have to contend with a star-studded line-up to join the stellar list of previous Dubai Desert Classic champions Seve Ballesteros, Ernie Els, Fred Couples, Jose Maria Olazabal, Mark O’Meara, Tiger Woods, Henrik Stenson, Rory McIlroy, Danny Willett, Sergio Garcia and Bryson DeChambeau.
The 2019 Open Champion Shane Lowry is another top contender eager to etch his name among the list of champions. The Irishman’s career highlight so far came when he lifted the Claret Jug at Royal Portrush, winning by an impressive six strokes. A six-time winner on the DP World Tour, Lowry secured his second Rolex Series title at the BMW PGA Championship in September, in a season that also included a top three finish at The Masters.
On the prospect of teeing off at Emirates Golf Club, as he aims to add more silverware in the UAE following his 2019 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship title, 35-year-old Lowry said: “I always enjoy going to Dubai and I am delighted to be returning to Emirates Golf Club for the Dubai Desert Classic in January. I’ve had success in the UAE in the past, and it would be great to add my name to the impressive list of players who have lifted this trophy.” After holding a one-shot lead in a stacked leaderboard last time out??, the Irishman fell on the final hurdle, but Lowry will be keen to avoid such slip-ups in Dubai.
Race to Dubai leader Victor Perez must be entering the Dubai field on a high after winning the first leg of the Desert Swing in Abu Dhabi, his biggest DP World Tour title of his career. The 30-year-old Frenchman claim a winner’s check of $1.53 million at one of the tour’s top events and strengthened his chances of playing for Europe at this year’s Ryder Cup outside Rome. His previous wins on the tour came at the Dunhill Links Championship in 2019 and the Dutch Open in May last year. The win was Perez’s third on the tour in 91 starts and moves him to the top of the DP World Tour rankings with 1,335 points.
“It feels fantastic,” said an emotional Perez. “I thought you always need a bit of fortune and there’s always the deciding shots coming down the stretch that can make or break. To hole that bunker shot on 17 is probably going to be a highlight,” Perez said after winning the title in Abu Dhabi.
Thomas Pieters had happy memories when he arrived in Abu Dhabi for his defence, but the Belgian professional’s challenge floundered. The 30-year-old even took some advice on his short-game from fellow Ryder Cup teammate Alex Noren, a 10-time DP World Tour winner. But the short-game upgrade didn’t yield immediate results but must be hoping that it will guide him to clinch the Dallah trophy on the revamped Majlis course.
Pieters was also part of the victorious Continental Europe team, who defeated Great Britain and Ireland at the Hero Cup at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. Hopefully, that success will allow the 30-year-old to have a positive start in Dubai.